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Friday, July 25, 2014

Recipe: The Reinvented Peanut Butter Cookie

Recipe: The Reinvented Peanut Butter Cookie

Baked 07.25.14

Peanut Butter Cookie traditionalists, be warned.  This cookie is not for you. In fact, this cookie has been specifically designed to fly in the face of everything you hold dear.

I spent this past week doing everything in my power to bring this cookie from its dry and dusty origins to a land of moist, chewy decadence.

Just take one look - I'd say that's mission accomplished. 


Peanut Butter / Black Cherry / Dark Chocolate


This recipe for the Reinvented Peanut Butter Cookie has been a great way to bring this week's Cookie Hacks Series to practice.

So what makes this recipe so special?

Let's start with the flour (*yawn*). No really... this is actually pretty cool! While the recipe uses all purpose flour, it is prepared in a very unconventional manner. I've never seen anyone try this with a cookie, so it may be a first. 

The night before making the dough, the recipe calls for mixing up a "poolish" (a what?!). A poolish is a bread making technique that involves mixing equal parts flour and water, by weight, with a pinch of yeast. The poolish then rests overnight, bubbling and fermenting to produce a highly elastic and slightly sour flavored mix. The poolish gives the cookie a very unique texture and a more complex flavor profile. 

To overcome the signature dryness of most peanut butter cookies, I used brown sugar. Brown sugar is hydroscopic, which means it attracts and retains moisture from the air. The result is a cookie that stays soft even after it cools.

An additional hit of molasses helps amp up the flavor profile, bringing a deep richness not found in a traditional peanut butter cookie. The molasses also makes for a much darker cookie.

Most of the fat in the recipe comes from the peanut butter (with a bit more coming from the egg yolks). Knowing that oil and butter tenderize a dough, my initial test batches also included 0.25 cups of both vegetable oil and butter. Big mistake! There's already so much fat in peanut butter, the test dough was literally weeping greasy tears as it chilled in the refrigerator. Live an learn... the final recipe doesn't call for any additional fat.

As a lover of all things bread, in addition to using the yeasty poolish, I decided to add yeast as a leavening agent. As there is so much sugar and fat in the recipe, the gluten bonds in the dough are not terribly strong. As a result, the yeast can only do so much to help the dough rise... but every little bit counts. And let's not forget that the yeast adds yet another unique flavor to the cookies. 

The rest of the leavening comes from baking powder. Double acting baking powder is used rather than baking soda in order to get more lift once the cookies are placed in the hot oven. Since the fully mixed dough rests in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours before baking, the gas-production of baking soda would have stopped well before the cookies hit the heat.

Lastly, this dough is chilled before baking, and the cookies are baked in an oven that is initially set at 400 degrees Faherheit. With the additional moisture from the cherries, this dough is somewhat liquid. By chilling the dough and starting with a high temperature oven, the cookies spread less than they would otherwise.

- The Recipe -

Reinvented Peanut Butter Cookie:

Yield: 18 large cookies

Prep Time
  • Active: 30 minutes
  • Pre-preparation: 12 to 18 hours - the poolish must be prepared the night before you make the cookie dough. 
  • Dough Rest Time: 12 to 36 hours - for best results, the recipe calls for letting to dough rest for up to 36 hours before baking.
  • Bake Time: 18-20 minutes

  • Poolish - 240g (1.5 Cups) - 1 full recipe as listed below
  • All Purpose Flour - 240g (2 Cups) separated into two 1-Cup portions
  • Yeast - 10g
  • White Granulated Sugar - 200g (1 Cup)
  • Brown Sugar - 200g (1 Cup)
  • Smooth Peanut Butter - 255g (1 Cup)
  • Eggs - 100g (2 Count)
  • Molasses - 15g (1 Tbls)
  • Vanilla - 2 Tsp
  • Baking Powder - 2 Tsp
  • Salt - 1.5 Tsp
  • Black Cherries - 300g
  • Dark Chocolate - 150g
Ingredients (Poolish):
  • All Purpose Flour - 120g (1 Cup)
  • Warm Water - 120g (0.5 Cup)
  • Yeast - A pinch 

1. Make the poolish. In a medium sized bowl (at least twice the volume of the ingredients) stir together the flour, water and yeast until well combined. Tightly wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and set the poolish in a warm place overnight (up to 18 hours). The mixture will begin to ferment, forming many small bubbles on the surface.

Chef’s note: A poolish is a bread making technique that involves mixing equal parts flour and water, by weight, with a pinch of yeast. The poolish then rests overnight, bubbling and fermenting to produce a highly elastic and slightly sour flavored mix. 

2. Whisk the yeast with 0.25 Cup warm water. Mixing with a spatula, combine the yeast water with the poolish and 1 Cup flour until it forms a wet dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Chef’s note: Allowing the dough to rest at this stage helps the flour to fully hydrate.

3. In a separate mixing bowl, beat together the white granulated sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter until fully incorporated - approximately two minutes. Scrape down the walls and bottom of the bowl.  Add the eggs, molasses and vanilla and beat until well incorporated - approximately two minutes. Once again, scrape down the walls and bottom of the bowl.

4. Swap the mixer paddle for a dough hook. Combine the rested dough with the peanut butter / sugar / egg mixture and knead for two minutes. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining 1 Cup flour, salt and baking powder. Using a fork, stir the mixture so that the baking powder is evenly distributed through the flour. Slowly add the remaining the flour mixture to the other ingredients, mixing for an additional three minutes. 

Chef’s note: Even though the molasses in this recipe is acidic and could be used to activate baking soda, double acting baking powder is used to bring some rise to the cookies when they hit the heat. If you want an even greater rise, an additional 1 tsp of baking powder can be added.

5. Cover the dough and allow it to rest overnight in the refrigerator (or up to 36 hours)  

6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Pit and quarter the cherries. Chop the dark chocolate into large chunks. Using a mixer fitted with a dough hook, slowly add the cherries and dark chocolate while mixing on low speed - approximately two minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix for an additional minute.

7. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to chill. The cherries are very moist and will make the dough considerably more fluid when warm.

8. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spoon dough for six large cookies, leaving an inch between each cookie (this dough will spread in the oven). 

Chef’s note: Chilling the dough and starting the baking process at 400 degrees Fahrenheit is an attempt to limit the spread of the cookies.

9. Place the cookies in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Rotate the cookie sheets after 10 minutes of baking. Continue to bake for an additional eight to ten minutes (for a total baking time of 18-20 minutes). Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for two minutes. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks. The cookies will remain soft and cake-like even well fully cooled.

- The Finished Product -

Fresh Black Cherries and Dark Chocolate

Peanut Butter Cookie Overhead

Two Layer Peanut Butter Cookie with Cherries

Tiered Peanut Butter Cookie with Cherries

Tiered Peanut Butter Cookies with Melted Peanut Butter

Close-up of Tiered Peanut Butter Cookies with Melted Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter Cookies Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

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